The Importance of Social Emotional and Ecological Knowledge (SEEK)

Renisha Bharvani, Project Rangeet

Human relationships are at the core of loving & learning. Through song & playful activities, Project Rangeet flexes our social muscles & prepares children to be tomorrow’s carers, thinkers & citizens.
– Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

Current education systems in most countries do not prepare children to thrive. Most systems have their rote learning roots tracing back to a “factory model” that emerged in the early 20th century. If the child of 2050 has employment opportunities that we haven’t yet imagined or is competing against robots that do maths and science faster than they do, then how do we equip children for this future? Educators, policy-makers and governments are realising that today’s children need a “breadth of skills approach” to keep up with the lightning pace of today. No matter what path they choose or culture they come from, they require a combination of learning, literacy and life skills.

Due to the pandemic, students are facing learning loss that is very critical. The situation could be described as almost two years of learning loss as in many countries students have not attended school for a year and are being automatically promoted to the next grade. (Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor, Access To Information Program, Bangladesh). For primary school children, this means that they will be missing out on crucial formative years of their education, not just academically, but perhaps more importantly, the essential social emotional aspects. This can lead to feelings of confusion, loss of self confidence/esteem, demotivation and general apathy toward studies.

In the case of students who have not had access to learning during the pandemic owing to socioeconomic reasons or gender (2020 will see approximately 12.5 million child marriages according to Save The Children’s Global Girlhood Report, 2020), this presents an even deeper problem. This can give rise to bullying, and discrimination which will lead to greater demotivation in school. As our students re-enter classrooms, we need to motivate them by using a “breadth of skills approach” adapting how we teach to how different children learn. Child centered, pedagogical methods like playful learning and multiple intelligences ensuring that “no child is left behind” should be adopted (The Brookings Institution, Policy 2020; Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, 2019 updated).

Competence in social emotional skills can help bridge the gap in educational inequalities worsened by disruptive events, such as the pandemic. A CASEL (Collaborative For Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) study indicates that social emotional learning (SEL) interventions can support the positive development of students regardless of race, socioeconomic background, or geographical contexts. 

Project Rangeet’s unique SEEK curriculum does just this, using a “breadth of skills approach”, with the crucial addition of monitoring and assessing children in real time.  SEEK also includes ecology because without a healthy planet there is no viable future for all.

Research also suggests that there is an economic benefit to SEL. A  study out of Columbia University shows that for every dollar invested in SEL programming, $11 dollars that would have been spent on costly interventions, remediation, dropout prevention, recovery, etc. is saved (CASEL).

The World Economic Forum and employers alike understand and stress the importance of social emotional skills.


92% of executives surveyed say skills such as problem-solving and communicating clearly are equally or more important than technical skills.
Source : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2015.
1. Complex problem solving6. Emotional intelligence
2. Critical thinking7. Judgement and decision making
3. Creativity8. Service orientation
4. People management9. Negotiation
5. Coordinating with others10. Cognitive flexibility
And research shows that social and emotional skills and attitudes also contribute to the other skills such as critical thinking.
Source: Future of Jobs Report, World Economic Forum

The real test doesn’t happen in class. It happens in the real world.

Project Rangeet’s SEEK curriculum will not only provide children with important knowledge and skills to increase empathy and human values at a critical period in the world’s history, but motivate and support them to become better learners of the future and help them to get back on track faster.

PROJECT RANGEET: A PEDAGOGICAL SOLUTION

Project Rangeet’s SEEK curriculum is educationally sound. We have identified specifically what works with the psychology of primary school children. Project Rangeet uses proven methodologies that work in classrooms, with each lesson including Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, designed to be taught in the way different brains think and learn. Our SEEK program involves children as active participants in their own learning process through music, art, games and storytelling, amongst other activities. 

The added benefit of these teaching-learning tools is that we can also produce better primary school teachers.  Furthermore, according to CASEL’s 2017 study, teachers who possess strong social and emotional competencies are more likely to stay in the classroom longer because they are able to deal with students more effectively, and less likely to suffer burnout.

Project Rangeet has been cited by The Brookings Institution as a model for playful learning methods (The Brookings Institution, Policy 2020). In addition the UN has endorsed Project Rangeet as a global best practice in this area of learning Good Practices in SSTC for Sustainable Development – Vol. 3 (2020).

Through Project Rangeet, schools become vehicles through which children can learn necessary life skills to function successfully in the present and future. Skills which will always be relevant, including: 

SEL is an integral part of education and human development.  On May 16, 2020 President Barack Obama addressed a high school graduating class in which he acknowledged that the world is in a precarious place and if it is going to get better, it’s going to be up to the children. He acknowledged that being one of the old guard it wasn’t for him to tell the younger generation what to do.  The pandemic has shaken up the status quo and laid bare that the old ways of operating don’t work.

Borrowing from Pullitzer Prize winning writer Thomas Friedman – 
As a species:

Where we are today was not inevitable.  It was all about poor choices and poor values. It is becoming clear that empathy, compassion, climate change, personal well-being, anxiety and depression are all interconnected and to solve our problems we need to have a plan.

That’s the uber lesson here: As the world gets more deeply intertwined, everyone’s behavior — the values that each of us bring to this interdependent world — matters more than ever. And, therefore, so does the “Golden Rule.” It’s never been more important. Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you, because more people in more places in more ways on more days can now do unto you and you unto them like never before.


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